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    Naomi Osaka is forced to pull out of the Cincinnati Open final with a hamstring blow… giving a boost to Serena Williams in her quest for 24th Grand Slam title at the US Open

    • Naomi Osaka was forced to withdraw from her scheduled final on Saturday 
    • She was only one of four of the WTA’s top 10 who have travelled to New York
    • It is a boost to Serena Williams who will bid to equal the record of 24 major titles

    Serena Williams’ hopes of lifting that elusive 24th Grand Slam title received a boost when Naomi Osaka was forced to withdraw from her scheduled final on Saturday ahead of the US Open.

    Osaka concluded a turbulent week by pulling out of the relocated Cincinnati Open final at Flushing Meadows with a hamstring injury, two days after her stand against police violence caused the tournament to be delayed.

    That handed the title to Victoria Azarenka but it is also some encouragement to Williams as the Japanese player is one of only four from the WTA’s top 10 who have travelled to New York for the Grand Slam event that starts on Monday.

    Serena Williams will face comptetition from only three of the WTA’s top 10 in New York

    The 38-year-old American is seeded three as she tries to equal Margaret Court’s record of 24 singles’ majors, having failed to win one since the 2017 Australian Open, after which she took a break to have a baby. 

    ‘I will never be satisfied until I retire,’ said Williams of her quest. ‘That’s been the story of my career. It’s been a chaotic year. Normally I feel a bit more played in, but it’s not even the final slam of the year.’

    Williams was slightly equivocal when asked if she supported Osaka’s decision to refuse to play her warm-up tournament match on Thursday, saying: ‘There has been a lot of stuff going on as we know. 

    ‘That was Naomi’s decision. If it was a good decision, which she felt was the right one, it’s good for her to come to that. You know how I feel. There’s a lot of injustice going on. But I have other beliefs, more spiritual beliefs.’

    Williams, who turns 39 next month, suffered a disappointing second-round loss in the displaced Cincinatti event but has a reasonable draw next week, facing compatriot Kristie Ahn in the first round.

    Naomi Osaka was forced to pull out of the Cinccinati Open with a hamstring injury on Saturday

    Naomi Osaka was forced to pull out of the Cinccinati Open with a hamstring injury on Saturday

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